Finding One’s Voice

In January I had the opportunity to go to one of Sue Spargo‘s fabulous workshops in Tucson, Arizona, a place I’d never been. While there I met some lovely people, one of whom was Anna Bates, who has a blog, Woolie Mammoth, a YouTube channel – Quilt Roadies, and blogs for The Quilt Show once a week under the heading – Anna and G on the Road. During the course of our five days together, Anna interviewed me and wrote a lovely post about me and my work. Though I realized afterward that while I sent her photographs of my early designs in fashion and knitting, even a photo of one of my hand thrown and hand painted pots, I didn’t send photos of my jewelry! (insert wide eyed emoji). So here are a few additions to her post…

One of my ring designs in 18 Kt Gold with Sapphires
18 Kt Brushed Gold & Emerald Earrings
Sketch of one of my knit designs
The above sketch made into a knit for Elle Magazine

Because of my conversation with Anna, I reflected on the past (almost) forty years now, when I began my studies at Parsons School of Design and now, when I am learning everything I can about quilting, quilts, dyeing, and manipulating fabric in different ways to create an image, a feeling, an idea…

Another of my knit designs for Elle Magazine
An early design ensemble from my days at Parsons School of Design

All of which led me to a recurring topic – finding one’s artistic voice. How does one find it? How can it be nurtured, cultivated, encouraged?

While listening to a podcast a few weeks ago, two musicians were discussing this very idea and one of them repeated something they’d been told by another artist friend, who basically said – the only way to find your voice is by doing, and in the doing, you will not only find your voice, but it will make itself heard.

I love that! And it aligns with what I have learned through my experiences designing, whether that was fashion, knits, jewelry or quilts and fabric art.

A few months ago I decided I needed to learn how to piece. In quilting terms this is the ability to make something that looks like this: (This hen block was designed by Janet Nesbitt of One Sister.)

I have had a number of design ideas, such as combining pieced blocks with appliqué blocks and overlapping design elements that I cannot realize because there are some pretty basic things I do not know how to do. Piecing was one of them. I’m working on two quilts at the moment that cover all of these things, but in order to do them, and do them well, I need to learn how and then to practice, practice, practice.

So I signed up for Sarah Fielke’s 2019 BOM and began making Janet Nesbitt’s Half Crazy Quilt (which the pieced hen shown above is part of). In addition I joined a craftsy, now Bluprint class – Learn To Quilt with Amy Gibson. And while most of that class I was able to fast forward through, there were a couple of key take-aways that have helped me, such as getting seams to meet up perfectly and squaring up.

With each of these projects I’m learning and in learning how others do it, I am practicing and expanding what I can design, and hopefully my own voice will become clearer and more refined.

4 thoughts on “Finding One’s Voice

  1. Congratulations on your interview with Anna – your Kim McLean quilt is amazing!! I think your “voice” is already loud and clear – but taking the time to learn how to do something new and do it well can only make your “voice” louder and clearer – ;))

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